European industry fears EU enlargement will be slowed down because of conflicting interests of Member States
Percy Barnevik, Chair of the ERT enlargement working group, who presented the report at a press conference in Stockholm, urged the Member States to abandon their disputes concerning enlargement. Industrialists are concerned that the enlargement process will be damaged by recent squabbles about the shift of the EU’s regional and agricultural subsidies from west to east after enlargement. He foresees more trouble ahead, such as disputes over Cyprus or nuclear power plant closures.
The report sees significant economic advantages of enlargement for both the current and future Member State. The EU internal market will increase to nearly 500 consumers, allowing trade and investment to expand. The ERT believes that 1.5 million jobs could be created due to enlargement.
Mr Barnevik pointed out the discrepancy between the EU’s financial commitment for the current and previous enlargements. “Less than 10 per cent of the EU’s budget until 2007 is earmarked for enlargement. This is a modest outlay compared with integrating the southern member states. Furthermore, it is only 10 per cent of what the German federal government transferred to the eastern Lander after reunification,” he wrote in the Financial Times on 8 June.